Advice | 10 ways to make your patio less of a target for birds (2024)

Q: How can I deter pigeons from pooping on my deck? I know there are various products available — tape, twirly things and all that — but I was hoping for a way to keep them away, period. Is that possible?

A: A person who comes up with an easy, permanent and totally effective way to keep away pigeons — or seagulls, geese, starlings or other poop-prone birds — is sure to get rich. Unfortunately, that solution doesn’t yet exist.

Skip to end of carousel

Ask Jeanne anything about home maintenance

Jeanne Huber can help solve your problems about home repairs, gardening issues and anything that affects your house, condo or apartment. Jeanne is a trained carpenter and a co-founder of BARN, a craft and DIY center in Washington. She has written the How To column since 2005. Ask Jeanne anything at

End of carousel

That said, it is possible to make a deck, patio or balcony less inviting to pigeons or other pest birds. Here are some options, along with the pros and cons of each method.

Remove feeders

Return to menu

Taking down bird feeders is a good first step, but it’s not likely to be enough. Pigeons, especially, dine on a wide array of things — including insects, snails, worms, fruit and greens — even when people aren’t putting out a banquet of grains and food scraps.

Light and sound

Return to menu

Reflected light can go a long way toward bird-proofing a deck or patio. Birds are confused and scared by twirly things, reflective tape, and shiny CDs or aluminum-foil pie plates suspended on string that move in a breeze. Plastic owls also work, for a while.

Wind chimes and sounds, both audible and ultrasonic, also can help keep birds at bay. But the key thing to remember with all of these deterrents is that birds aren’t as dumb as we might think. Something will work for a while, but then the birds figure out the trick is just a scare tactic and ignore it.

If you’re trying to keep birds from eating cherries or berries in your garden, wait to put out reflective pieces until shortly before the fruit ripens so the birds don’t have time to figure out the subterfuge. For a deck or patio you want to use all summer, stock up on a couple of deterrents and switch them periodically. You might want to alternate between reflective devices, plastic owls or rubber snakes, and things that emit sounds.



Return to menu

Netting can be almost 100 percent effective at keeping birds out of an area. Bird-B-Gone recommends ¾-inch polypropylene mesh, which it says blocks all birds, including pigeons, starlings and sparrows.

But there are downsides: Birds can fly into the netting and get caught, a situation that’s not fun to deal with. The netting could make you feel like you’re in a cage. And you’d need a support structure of some kind, which could get complicated unless your patio, balcony or deck already has a roof, overhead trellis or pergola.

Unless there’s a roof, you also need a strategy to keep pigeons or other birds from perching on the upper supports and pooping right through the mesh.

Bird wire

Return to menu

Bird wire, which would keep birds from roosting on the railing surrounding a deck, is nylon-coated stainless steel cable strung between upright supports about 3½ to 5 inches above a beam and 3 inches apart if a beam is wide. The wires look like an inviting place to land, but the tensioned spring system makes for an unstable surface, so the birds roost elsewhere. ( sells all the components and offers a five-year warranty against corrosion; 250 feet of wire is $28.75.)

Electric track systems

Return to menu

Birdbarrier also offers an electrified track system, Bird-Shock Flex-Track, which gives birds enough of a shock when they land that they go elsewhere, but not such a high surge that they are injured or killed. It also has a five-year warranty against corrosion. Birdbarrier prices components separately, with the track starting at $216.60 for 50 feet. On Amazon you can buy a kit with 33 feet of a different brand of track and a charger for $199.


Return to menu

Spikes work well to keep birds off narrow ledges, but they aren’t as discrete as some other options, and they’re probably not something you’d want on your deck railing. At Home Depot, spikes to cover 10 linear feet are $24.58 in stainless steel and $30.03 in clear plastic, which is designed to be nearly invisible once installed.

Sticky gels

Return to menu

Installing bird wire, electrified track or spikes can take considerable effort. Squirting sticky goo, such as Bird Repellent Gel ($29.97 for three tubes at Home Depot), using a caulk gun is easier, but it won’t last as long. The manufacturer claims it will stay tacky and effective at keeping pigeons, starlings or sparrows from roosting for up to six months. If your yard gets a lot of dust, that could shorten the effective time. The gel is nontoxic but probably not something you want to spread on handrails or other surfaces people are likely to touch.


Unpleasant odors

Return to menu

Companies also offer bird repellents that use scents to scare away birds, but check customer reviews online before you buy: Many of these get two stars out of five, while the twirly and reflective solutions tend to rate considerably better.


Return to menu

In agricultural settings, where bird damage can be severe, some farmers are using lasers to scare away birds. Green laser lights set to flash randomly work especially well, with the light most vivid near sundown and sunrise. Laser light typically doesn’t stand out as much during the day, but Bird-X, which sells a laser that makes red and green dots ($204.97 at Home Depot) claims that its product works day or night. Customer reviews confirm that — and note that it can drive a dog crazy.

One customer suggested saving money by buying a laser designed for making a Christmas-season outdoor show, which produces similar light flashes but costs far less. (The Star Shower laser with red and green options and a remote control, for example, is $39.99 on Walmart’s website.)

Lasers can annoy neighbors, and some states have laws that make it a crime to use a laser in a way that bothers someone. Most places ban lasers directed at police or airplanes.


Return to menu

Giving pigeons or other birds food laced with a contraceptive is another option, but one that’s really only practical as a way of reducing a community’s bird population long-term. It doesn’t kill the birds, just keeps their eggs from hatching. And because pigeons may live for seven years or so, it will be a long time before the population decreases. Plus, if the birds skip eating the treated food for a few days, any new eggs they lay are back to normal.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

Advice | 10 ways to make your patio less of a target for birds (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated:

Views: 5937

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.